By Chris Parker
Lebanon marched all the way to the Class 4 District 10 championship game last season before falling to Willard to finish the season 21-11-3. The Lady Yellowjackets finished runner-up in the Ozark Conference as well.
Coach Jenny Collins enters her fourth season as the head coach of the Lady Yellowjackets. She will be tasked with replacing a class of five seniors including two all-conference selections. Four senior letterwinners in Katie Esther, Cori Johnson, Skylyr Leake and Taylor Bowling return. They will be joined by classmates Erika Fox, Haley Lundy and Faith Campbell to give Lebanon a strong senior leadership group.
Esther and Johnson will key the offensive attack. Esther, a first-team all-conference selection, led the team in kills with 261 last season. Johnson, a second-team all-conference honoree, put down 208 kills while posting the highest kill percentage on the team at .235.
Bowling and junior Avery Hays will take care of the setting duties. Lebanon ran a 5-1 last year with Bowling and she recorded 538 assists before her season ended early due to injury. Hays stepped into the role to help Lebanon win its last four conference games and march to the district championship match.
The big hole to fill will be that left by libero Jazzlyn Wells. The first-team all-conference selection tallied nearly 1,200 digs in her career and was a three-year letter winner. Senior transfer Faith Campbell and junior Elle Douglas are competing for that libero spot.
Juniors Bailey Hough, Jenna Skeen, Grace Nelson and Kiara Waterman will round out the varsity roster.
“Expectations are high for the team. We want to put ourselves in position during the season to give us the opportunity to win a conference and district championship,” Collins said. “We have a strong Ozark Conference and we know that we will have to be on top of our game each and every time we step on the court. We have the expectations for ourselves that as we prepare to battle, it isn’t about accepting average play, but instead making it great play on a consistent basis. We are working to improve our mental aspect of the game and focus on one point at a time as success comes when that is how the game is played.”
Lebanon opens the season on Aug. 25 at the Branson Invitational.